Summer is officially here, and it’s time to start thinking about road trips! Whether it’s an impromptu day trip to the beach, a long weekend in the mountains or an even longer trip to visit relatives, the most important item on your checklist should be establishing an appropriate playlist! Okay, not the most important, but you’ll be thankful to have a playlist that is equal parts energizing and introspective so the monotony of the drive never drains your excitement for the road. Because remember…life is a journey, not a destination!
Speaking of Journey, you can’t go wrong with “Don’t Stop Believin'”! After all, travel is ultimately about dreams. Dreams of escape and of overcoming hardships, dreams of landscapes, of cities, of people you’ve never met and places you’ve never been, of experiencing the world from a new perspective...and a good road trip song encompasses all those feelings of wanderlust.
Just a small town girl
Livin’ in a lonely world
She took the midnight train
This song leaves you with a feeling that you can make it through anything – even the next 100 miles.
“I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)”
How I Met Your Mother‘s “Arrivederci, Fiero” revealed the road-trip-worthiness of this Proclaimers classic.
But I would walk five hundred miles
And I would walk five hundred more
Travel can be daunting. Not only does this song provide the up-tempo energy you might need after a few hundred miles, it’s also a song about personal resolve – that if you’re willing to go the distance, you’ll find it’s all worth it in the end.
“Life is a Highway”
With a title like “Life is a Highway”, it’s hard to go wrong.
Life is a highway
I wanna ride it all night long
Tom Cochrane’s most famous song has been covered several times, including by Rascal Flatts for the soundtrack of the Pixar movie Cars.
“On the Road Again”
For the country fans in the car, there are few songs that capture the essence of road trip magic more perfectly than this classic from country legend Willie Nelson.
Just can’t wait to get on the road again
The life I love is making music with my friends
Even if you’re not on tour with your bandmates, most road trips involve making proverbial “music” with those closest to you. Seeing the world, realizing your dreams, making new memories…all with your besties by your side.
We’re the best of friends
Insisting that the world keep turning our way
Is on the road again
“I’ve Been Everywhere”
If Willie’s song captures the magic of a road trip, Johnny Cash’s “I’ve Been Everywhere” captures the practical realities. Just singing the list of this traveler’s travels can be exhausting, and life on the road can be relentless in its monotony. That’s the road, man. Long, repetitive, and wearisome. But along the way, you get to “cross the deserts bare” and breathe “the mountain air”, and you can’t put a price on that.
Country crooners and classic rock bands haven’t completely cornered the market on road-trip-playlist-worthy songs.
Moats and boats, and waterfalls,
Alleyways, and payphone calls
I been everywhere with you (that’s true)
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros hit the nail on the head with “Home”, which is sure to make its way onto the road trip playlists of more than a few Millennials and Prius-driving-hipsters on their way to Burning Man.
“Sweet Home Alabama”
It’s a must if your travels have you headed south, but even if you’re not literally going to Alabama the sweet guitar licks and the shear American-ness of itmake it a great addition to any driving soundtrack.
“The Road Goes On Forever”
An outlaw. A pick-up truck. A briefcase full of cash. It’s a classic ballad of the freedom that comes from the road. And with lyrics like “The road goes on forever and the party never ends” and the raspy vocals of Robert Earl Keen, it’ll be hard to leave it off your list.
“Born to Run”
When you really need to find your groove, when you need that extra kick and the coffee has lost its effectiveness, turn to “The Boss”.
Sprung from cages out on highway nine,
Chrome wheeled, fuel injected, and steppin’ out over the line
Bruce Springsteen is as American as apple pie, and there’s something that just feels right about hitting the road with his music filling the air. And for obvious reasons, “Born to Run” just makes sense. Not only was it Springsteen’s breakout single, it perfectly embodies the sentiment of all road trip enthusiasts with nearly every lyric directly addressing the “call” of the road.
We’re gonna get to that place
Where we really wanna go
And we’ll walk in the sun
But till then tramps like us
Baby we were born to run
For extra credit, though, download Nebraska in its entirety and save it for some late-night driving through the Great Plains. Some stories need to be told by one man, one guitar, and what better time to let it all sink in than when you’re watching the desert roll past by moonlight and contemplating the meaning of it all. Who know, you might even find yourself.
Of course, this is just a starter list, so to take you a little further, here are a few bonus tracks:
Classic Rock: “Born to be Wild” by Steppenwolf, “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen, “Hotel California” by The Eagles (even if you’re not going to California), “Freebird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd, “Running on Empty” by Jackson Brown, “Here I Go Again” by White Snake, “Runnin’ Down a Dream” by Tom Petty, “Life in the Fastlane” by The Eagles
Slow but Reflective: “Take the Long Way Home” by Supertramp, “Fade Into You” by Mazzy Star, “Long May You Run” by Neil Young, “Carolina in my Mind” by James Taylor, “Fireflies” by Owl City
Hipster Tracks: “I Will Wait” by Mumford & Sons, “I Woke Up in a Car” by Something Corporate, “Send Me on My Way” by Rusted Root, “The Distance” by Cake, “Best Day of My Life” by American Authors